The Regional Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio and Palude del Capitano has been instituted in 2006, it covers 1000 hectares and is located in the Lecce Province along the west coast of Salento between Porto Cesareo and Gallipoli.

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It includes Porto Selvaggio Park (instituted in 1980) and the Palude del Capitano and is a must-see during any holiday in Salento.

Porto Selvaggio (literally Wild Port) is a rocky cove between the two watch towers Torre dell’Alto and Torre Uluzzo. It covers an area of 400 hectares circa and is mainly covered by a dense pine wood, olives, eucalyptus trees and Mediterranean macchia (scrub-land) of acacias and brooms; it also includes a stretch of rocky and jagged coastline which overlooks the Ionian Sea.

To reach the coastline you will need to cross the dense pine forest: a ten-minute walk through a pristine forest floor and you will admire the crystal and always clear waters, rocky seabed (often explored by divers) and reefs that reach up to 40 meters.

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The whole area is protected against tourist development and has various type of habits which are home to a wide range of wildlife including lizards, weasels, finches, foxes and birds like hoopoe, thrush and kestrels. Along the coast there are numerous inlets and caves both underwater and emerged such as Grotta di Torre dell’Alto, Grotta di Uluzzo, Grotta Capelvenere and Grotta del Cavallo.

Mainly know for its natual and unspoiled environment, the park of Porto Selvaggio has also a huge importance from cultural and historic point of view and shows many areas of archaeological and pale-ontological interest. The park is in fact dominated by the three towers: Torre dell’Alto, Torre Uluzzo and Torre Inserraglio, built between the XV and XVI for defensive purposes. The Uluzzo Bay also takes us far back in time: in the Grotta del Cavallo (Horse Cave) numerous remains of animals (including rhinos) and artifacts have been found which date back to the Neanderthal Man and the Paleolithic period.

The Palude del Capitano, located north of Porto Selvaggio, is an area of marshland and low cliff that lies just a few meters from the coast. This area is mainly covered by the “Spunnulate” (literally sunk): caves that have lost their roof and are filled with water sourced from natural underground springs which communicate with each other and connect the marsh to the open sea. The area is much visited by lovers of bird watching who can admire different species of birds including the moorhen, egret, kestrel, the heron, the hoopoe.

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For further info please visit the website: www.portoselvaggio.net

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